Bill Viola gets autumn going

The master of video art is one of the biggest names for the new exhibition season, which also features video games, sound art, and some of the best photography around

Ten years ago, Bill Viola (New York, 1951) received Catalonia’s International Prize, the Catalan government’s most prestigious award. Yet, it has been some time since the artist had an exhibition here. That will change this autumn when La Pedrera will have a retrospective of the master of video art’s career. And, the exhibition ’Mirrors of the Unseen’ (Miralls de l’invisible), from October 4 until January 5, will not only be on display in the iconic modernist building, but will also go to other cultural venues in Barcelona (Palau de la Música and Liceu) as well as around the country (Bòlit art centre in Girona, Vic’s Episcopal Museum and the Montserrat Museum).

Screens, albeit in a different context, will also feature in an exhibition at Barcelona’s Centre of Contemporary Culture, the CCCB. From December 18 to May 3, ’Video games’ (Videojocs) will appeal to people of different generations, as it covers the evolution of video games from when they first appeared in the 1970s until today.

It is not easy to overshadow the name of Bill Viola, but if there is one artist who can, it is Picasso. The painter’s museum in Barcelona has two exhibitions running simultaneously (from Nov 8 to Mar 15) that look at one of Picasso’s least known facets: writing. One exhibition deals with surrealist poet, Paul Éluard, with whom he shared a special friendship and a mutual admiration. The other focuses on the great painter’s poetry and its connection to his art.

Sound also features in the new season, with the Fundació Miró presenting ’Sound Art?’ (Art sonor?), an exhibition that shows the influence of sound on 20th- century art (Oct 24 to Feb 23). With work by Kupka, Delaunay, Kandinsky and Klee, there is no shortage of big names. Sound applied to art objects also features at Barcelona’s contemporary art gallery, Macba, which focuses on the work of Greek artist Panagiotis Vassilakis, known as Takis. The artist, who died in August, used sound, with light and electromagnetic energy, to stimulate his experimentation with the language of art. Takis runs from November 22 to April 19. Before that, the gallery opens an exhibition on October 18 (until Mar 8) devoted to Charlotte Posenenske (1930-1985), a German Jewish artist who in the 1950s and ’60s frustrated speculators in the art market by selling her works for the price of the materials used to make them.

As usual, Catalan art has a lower profile in the large galleries, apart from MNAC, which knows its remit well. There should be recognition for the work Aurèlia Muñoz (1926- 2011) did in textile art. The exhibition in Catalonia’s foremost gallery (Oct 24 to Apr) is in part thanks to donations from her family. Meanwhile, MNAC will have a retrospective of Oriol Vilapuig: ’Formes d’oli i aigua’, from November 28 to April 26.

The Fundació Vila Casas never turns its back on Catalan art, and has three exhibitions in its Espais Volart venue from September 26 to December 15. One features the work of sculptor Arístides Maillol and the photographs Frank Horvat took of Maillol’s terracotta pieces. Another focuses on 20 large-format pieces Lídia Masllorens made between 2014 and 2019. And the third features the private collection of Valencia’s Ars Citerior. Also, from October 7, the Can Framis venue opens the renovation of its permanent collection (of exclusively Catalan painting) to the public.

Theatrical Tàpies

From October 24 to April 19, the Antoni Tàpies Foundation shows a different side of the artist’s work: theatre, in an exhibition of stage set material Tàpies made between 1961 and 1968 and his designs for a failed project at the Liceu in 1992. The foundation also has ’Errata’ from October 11 to January 12, featuring the anti-nationalist work of Israeli photographer, Ariella Azoulay.

Radical politics is also the subject of Daniela Ortiz’s solo exhibition ’This land will never be fertile for having given birth to colonisers’ in La Virreina Image Centre in Barcelona from November 15 to February 9. The same venue will also show the work of Greek photographer Voula Papaioannou.

It is a season for photography fans. The Fundació Foto Colectania, focuses on the ’Movida Madrileña’ movement through the lenses of Alberto García-Alix, Ouka Leele, Pablo Pérez-Mínguez and Miguel Trillo. ’La movida. Crònica d’una agitació 1978-1988’ runs from October 18 to February 16. Another must-see is ’Càmera i ciutat. Escenes de la modernitat’ (Oct 31 to Mar 8) at CaixaForum. It is the institution’s first joint project with the Centre Pompidou in Paris. CaixaForum also has another international collaboration underway with the exhibition ’Opera: Passion, Power and Politics (Òpera. Passió, poder i política), exploring 400 years of European history through opera. The exhibition is from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and runs until January 26.

In design, the Museum of Design and the Fabra i Coats art centre look at the social and environmental responsibility of designers with the former holding an exhibition on the legacy of Viennese painter and activist Victor Papanek (Oct 31 to Feb 2), while the art centre features ’Rehogar +. Dispositius en obert’ (until Oct 27) by the MakeatuVida collective, which focuses on ethical design.


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